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Softbank & Arm Deal: Samsung In Trouble?

Softbank & Arm Deal: Samsung In Trouble?

SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son arrived in Seoul on Saturday to meet business leaders, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, on a possible deal involving UK chip designer Arm. 

His visit comes after the Samsung chief hinted at their planned meeting late last month upon arrival from a business trip to the UK, where Arm is based. In the next day, Son also confirmed the meeting, saying he planned to discuss a strategic alliance with Samsung on Arm. 

Their possible meet-up raised speculation immediately about a new deal between the two parties. 

SoftBank has sought to raise cash by selling Arm, one of its most valuable holdings, while Samsung, sitting on cash worth 120 trillion won ($83 billion), has expressed its will to spend big on key growth drivers. 

Earlier this year, SoftBank had attempted to sell Arm to US chip giant Nvidia but the plans fell apart due to antitrust concerns raised by UK regulators. At the time, the deal price was estimated at $40 billion. 

The huge deal size and regulatory hurdles have stalled related talks among potential bidders, with some chip makers, including Qualcomm, Intel and SK hynix, hinting at creating a multinational consortium to acquire Arm. 

During his week-long stay, Son is expected to persuade Samsung to join the bidding race even though it remains to be seen whether the deal would be an acquisition, partial stake purchase or a new strategic partnership. 

Industry watchers say it is unlikely for Samsung to acquire Arm on its own due to possible overpricing and unclear business synergy. 

Arm, which boasts more than 90 percent market share in mobile processors globally, posted $2.7 billion in revenue last year. 

Samsung is also not free from antitrust issues. It is the world’s No. 1 memory chipmaker and the No. 2 in foundry market. It's possible tie-up with Arm could cause concerns about conflict of interest among its numerous corporate clients. 

Other than the Samsung chief, Son is also likely to meet other business leaders here, including the top brass at SK hynix, the world’s No. 2 memory chipmaker and one of the participants in the Qualcomm-led consortium. 

SoftBank acquired Arm in 2016 by purchasing a 75 percent stake in the company for $32 billion. 

Source:  The Korea Herald. Lee Ji-yoon, October 03, 2022

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